Expecting mothers look for relief from the pains and strains of pregnancy when and where they can. As a baby bump grows, so does the extent of the mother’s pain and discomfort.
When putting their feet up, sleeping on their sides, stretching, and heating pads work to no avail, many moms-to-be will seek prenatal massages for soothing relief.
What are prenatal massages, and are they right for you? Is massage therapy safe during pregnancy?
From athletes and office workers to chronic pain and stress sufferers, Hand In Health helps people of all pain levels and needs find relief through massage therapy ‒ including expecting mothers!
Are you expecting and experiencing the all too common occurrence of back pain and discomfort? We encourage you to read this article to learn more about the benefits of prenatal massages. If you’re located in Central New York and would like to schedule a prenatal massage, contact our wellness center in Downtown Syracuse or North Syracuse today!
Can Pregnant Women Get Massages?
With their doctor’s permission, pregnant women can safely undergo massage therapy. A licensed massage therapist and physician will work together to determine if it is safe for a woman to get massages during pregnancy. Women with high-risk pregnancies, high blood pressure, or gestational diabetes may not be candidates for massage therapy.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, women can begin massage therapy during the first, second, or third trimester of pregnancy. However, every facility is different when it comes to prenatal massages. Though research does not link massages to miscarriages, it’s not uncommon for some untrained massage therapists and clinics to refuse massages to women in their first trimesters when the risk of miscarriage is higher.
If your doctor gives you the green light to get massages during pregnancy, seek a certified massage therapist with specialized prenatal training. They will understand which techniques are safe to employ, which equipment to use, and how to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and help the expectant mother relax.
What Are Prenatal Massages?
A prenatal massage (or a pregnancy massage) specifically accommodates the changing anatomy of a woman’s pregnant body.
During most traditional massages, patients lie face-down on their stomachs, which is not possible to do when pregnant, nor is lying on your back further along into the second and third trimesters.
A pregnant woman requires strategic positioning and support usually not seen during other types of massages. Typically, she lays on her side during a prenatal massage. She is then propped up by special pillows or padding to support her back, knees, or feet. Expectant mothers will typically alternate between a side-lying position and an upright seated position.
Here at Hand In Health, we employ side-lying postures and specialty pillows to help mothers feel as comfortable as possible. Unlike other massage clinics in the Central New York region, we are one of few to feature a specialty pillow with a hole cut out in the belly, allowing women to lay on their stomachs during their massages. This allows our therapists to concentrate on the lower back where expectant mothers will often experience the most pain and discomfort.
What Are the Benefits of Prenatal Massages?
In addition to general pain and tension relief, pregnancy massages provide a wide variety of benefits for expectant mothers.
By the third trimester, many women will experience swelling and inflammation in their lower extremities. Prenatal massages can ward off swelling by reducing water retention, stimulating your lymphatic system, and alleviating pressure on the joints.
As pregnancy massages reduce swelling, they can also relieve heaviness and body fatigue, improving circulation and increasing a woman’s energy levels. They also help to release hormones like serotonin and dopamine that can regulate stress, lower anxiety and depression, and promote better relaxation.
It’s not uncommon for some expecting mothers to experience severe lower back pain or sciatic nerve pain due to pressure caused by a woman’s growing uterus. If you’re experiencing lower back pain that radiates to the buttocks and legs, a prenatal massage can release tension on the sciatic nerve and reduce inflammation.
That’s not all. Research also shows that because prenatal massages reduce stress levels and improve muscle strength and relaxation, women are more likely to have shorter and less complicated labors, as well as fewer incidents of post-natal depression.
How Are Pregnancy Massages Different from Other Massages?
Pregnancy massages employ many common massage techniques often experienced in other types of massage. For example, prenatal massage therapists will perform long, gliding strokes typically used in Swedish massages.
However, prenatal massage therapists tend to avoid applying deep pressure on the abdomen and legs. An expecting mom and their therapist will work together to determine the level of pressure that will be used during the massage. Trigger point therapy or deep tissue massage techniques may be used, within a patients comfort level, to alleviate specific areas of muscle tightness or spasm.
How Can You Prepare for a Prenatal Massage?
On the day of your pregnancy massage, there are a couple of things you can do to prepare and optimize your experience. First, wear something comfortable to your appointment. Minimize your use of technology and practice meditation or deep breathing exercises beforehand so you come to the appointment already in a relaxed state of mind.
Let your massage therapist know if you are experiencing morning sickness or any other type of discomfort. That way, they can avoid certain techniques or positions that may increase your nausea or discomfort.
Moms: You Deserve to Relax & Feel Good!
Pregnancy is a special time where an expectant mother can connect with her baby and experience a truly remarkable and transformative experience of body, mind, and soul. The pains and stains of pregnancy can take their toll and mire this experience – but there is relief!
If you are currently pregnant and experiencing pain and discomfort, we encourage you to try prenatal massages at Hand In Health. With wellness centers in North Syracuse and Downtown Syracuse, our licensed and certified prenatal massage therapists assist pregnant women throughout Onondaga County and the Central New York region.